Copycats can go a long way in the automotive industry, and right now diesel engines are the hottest new trend. In the race to be more environmentally-friendly as soon as possible, many automakers are turning to diesel rather than costly hybrid and electric technologies. American companies, however, have been slow to catch on. That was, until Chrysler laid the smack down by debuting a 3.0L V6 EcoDiesel engine that will debut in the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and could be featured across their entire brand lineup. Is the EcoDiesel going to change the outdated way that Americans think about diesel engines? Join us, as we find out what makes the EcoDiesel V6 engine tick.
Armed with low displacement, diesel fuel and a turbocharger, the 3.0L V6 EcoDiesel engine from Chrysler is a perfect candidate for producing impressive fuel economy without sacrificing on power. Indeed, that combination and an array of new technologies help the EcoDiesel churn out 240 horsepower and 420lb.-ft. of torque, while returning 22/30 MPG (4x4 estimated 21/28) and 730 miles of driving range in the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Consider this. One of the most celebrated and heavily-awarded Chrysler engines ever is the V6 Pentastar, currently in everything from the 300C to the Wrangler. But the new EcoDiesel V6 boasts 30-percent better fuel economy and 62-percent better torque over the Pentastar. Put that in your exhaust pipe and smoke it.
Diesel is a rather primitive fuel source, so Chrysler countered with incredible technology in the new EcoDiesel V6. High pressure MultiJet II common-rail injectors, carried over from Fiat technology, feed solenoid valves at a whopping 29,000psi. Piston-cooling oil jets keep temperatures low and provide long-term durability in an extremely intense environment.
In fact, everything in the new EcoDiesel engine is designed to withstand heat, reduce shaking and run efficiently. The 24-valve, DOHC engine is made with a block and bed plate built from strong compacted graphite iron (CGI) for added stiffness. The EcoDiesel is uniquely packaged thanks to 60-degree cylinder banks, that also create the perfect inertia balance necessary in a torque-heavy diesel engine. A cylinder firing order of 1-4-2-5-3-6 is efficient, quick and eliminates the need for a balance shaft.
Diesel engines, especially those with turbochargers, tend to lag and then abruptly rumble to life like you’re driving a 400-horsepower horse and carriage instead of a modern day automobile. To combat the issue, Chrysler outfitted the EcoDiesel V6 with swift-control intake ports and variable-geometry turbocharger for low-speed throttle response and high-speed efficiency. The turbocharger is water-cooled turbo, to handle massive heat caused by the EcoDiesel, and low-voltage ceramic glow plugs for cold starts.
Efficiency isn’t just about MPG figures. The new EcoDiesel takes several steps to actually decrease its carbon footprint, as well. A urea/water solution is injected in harmful NOx exhaust gasses, using Selective Catalyst Reduction (SCR), to drastically lower CO2 emissions. Also, water-cooled exhaust recirculation lowers the oxygen levels in the combustion chamber to control NOx emissions. Normally, recirculation hinders fuel economy, but a 30 MPG highway rating is a testament to the fact that the new EcoDiesel V6 is efficient enough to still stay green.
Finally, power reaches the wheels through an innovative eight-speed transmission. Chrysler uses an aggressive lock-up torque converter to ensure that the massive torque generated by the EcoDiesel V6 is not turned into wasted heat and energy, but rather transferred directly from the engine to the transmission shaft. Once the power is converted, the transmission uses more than 40 individual shift maps to instantly determine the driving conditions and how to respond without sacrificing power or fuel economy. With this level of shift-mapping, the Ecodiesel can adjust for acceleration, grade changes, electronic stability control interaction and probably the mood of your mother-in-law.
Even in this day and age, diesel engines are by no means a perfect powerplant. But with the new EcoDiesel V6, Chrysler has created an engine that utilizes innovative design and the newest automotive technology to handle diesel power like no other American manufacturer has before. After it debuts in the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the EcoDiesel will also be available in the Ram ProMaster (article here) and Ram 1500 (article here). A future run in some Dodge models can't be far off. The future has a lot in store for the EcoDiesel; other automakers would be wise to play copycat.
Thanks for reading Pop The Hood, a weekly autoMedia.com feature that examines the industry’s latest innovations and what makes them tick. If you enjoyed this column, check out these past entries in our Pop The Hood archive.